“Inspiring gear that connects acoustic players to pandemic era developments, novel innovations, and commemorative celebrations”: From single-cut stunners to busking Swiss army knifes, a round-up of 2024's hottest acoustic gear

Breedlove's TB Vintage Edition Blues Orange Concertina guitar, pictured from multiple angles
Breedlove's TB Vintage Edition Blues Orange Concertina guitar (Image credit: Breedlove)

In this digital age, where an endless stream of equipment information seems to come from all directions at any moment, now seems like a good time to take a 360-degree scan of the current landscape, filter though the spew, and focus on a few.

What you’ll find below is some inspiring gear that connects acoustic players to primary developments that have appeared scattered throughout the foggy ether of the pandemic era, as well as a few novel innovations and commemorative celebrations. 

This is by no means comprehensive coverage of the entire acoustic universe, but rather a selected swath of shining stars on the gear horizon, with a primary lens concentrated on guitars.

Breedlove TB Vintage Edition Blues Orange Concertina 

The Breedlove TB Vintage Edition Blues Orange Concertina is from Breedlove and Bedell Guitars, which both fly under the banner of Two Old Hippies. 

As owner Tom Bedell explains, “The Breedloves have bolt-on necks and are essentially Taylor killers, while Bedells are basically Martin killers.” Bedell himself is usually entrenched with the line that bears his name, but for the first time ever, he’s put his initials on a gorgeous orange Breedlove made of solid myrtlewood with a Baggs M1 magnetic pickup in the soundhole. “I wanted a guitar that sounded great playing the blues,” he reports. 

I had a chance to play a few Delta licks on the unplugged guitars in their booth at the NAMM show, and the instrument had an authentic appeal. The Breedlove TB Vintage Edition Blues Orange Concertina is priced more like a Bedell than a Breedlove, which may put it out of range for some few blues enthusiasts, but those with the greenbacks and an orange appreciation will dig it. 

TB Vintage Edition Blues Orange Concertina – $4,999, from Breedlove.

Cole Clark True Hybrid TL3 

Cole Clark's True Hybrid TL3 guitar

(Image credit: Cole Clark Guitars)

Cole Clark made hybrid history by straddling the acoustic/electric boundary with the True Hybrid TL2. The new TL3 ups the ante with improved magnetic pickups and dazzling aesthetics. The body remains a thinline Grand Auditorium loaded with Cole Clark’s PG3 acoustic pickup system, plus a magnetic system with dual outputs designed to feed an electric amp and an acoustic amp or P.A. 

The magnetic pickups (which now come on all new TL2s and TL3s) are hotter, with less noise, and are balanced for optimal performance with phosphor-bronze acoustic strings

The True Hybrid TL3EC-EMEM-HSS has a humbucker/single/single configuration, like the TL2 we reviewed, and is also available with a pair of humbuckers or three single-coils. 

The TL3’s cosmetics include imperial-style tuners and large abalone inlays on its ebony fretboard as well as on both sides of the waist on its carved top. The whole guitar is solid European maple (grown in Australia). 

Another TL3 designated BLBL-HUM is all Australian blackwood with a single humbucker between the bridge and soundhole, located in the standard spot rather than an offset teardrop like the other models. Its aesthetic is more traditional. 

True Hybrid TL3EC-EMEM-HSS – $3,999, from Cole Clark

Ibanez AE390TA and AE340FMH 

Ibanez's AE390TA and AE340FMH acoustic guitars

(Image credit: Ibanez)

Ibanez’s AE Performer concept is all about high-end aesthetics and features at player-friendly budgets. 

The AE390TA offers a distinctive tonewood combination with a German spruce top and gorgeous flamed maple back and sides finished in a brilliant Aqua Blue hue. The AE340FMH features a stunning solid flamed okume top as well as flamed okume back and sides. Both sport Ibanez’s secondary soundhole, the A.I.R. Port, on the top side, for additional personal monitoring from the player’s perspective. 

AE390TA – $829. AE340FMH – $799, from Ibanez.

Gibson Custom Ebony Series 

Gibson's Custom Ebony Series guitars

(Image credit: Gibson)

Gibson’s Custom Ebony series comprises a quartet of its most popular acoustics. Each handcrafted guitar retains its classic features and sound, and features a solid Sitka spruce top and onboard L.R. Baggs Session VTC electronics, along with appointments inspired by the Les Paul Custom, such as an ebony finish, multi-ply binding, mother-of-pearl block fretboard inlays, and a split-diamond headstock inlay.

The series includes the J-45 Custom, Hummingbird Custom, SJ-200 Custom and Songwriter EC Custom. J-45 Custom – $4,999. Hummingbird Custom – $5,999. SJ-200 Custom – $7,499. Songwriter EC Custom – $4,999, from Gibson

Takamine GD37CE PW & GD37CE-12 PW

Takamine's GD37CE PW and GD37CE-12 PW guitars

(Image credit: ESP Takamine)

Takamine’s GD37CE PW and its sibling GD37CE-12 PW 12-string represent striking new additions to the company’s affordable G Series. Their dreadnought bodies sport solid-spruce tops and maple back and sides, and are decked out in glossy pearl white, with a beautiful abalone rosette. 

A split-saddle bridge is designed to offer superior intonation, and the guitars come stage-ready with proprietary TP-3G electronics that include a three-band EQ, gain, and an onboard tuner. 

Takamine’s Director of Product Development, Tom Watters, says, “We created the two new GD37CE models to cover a wide range of musical styles,” and indeed, a guitarist could feel pretty heavenly rocking anything from folk to gospel on them. 

GD37CE PW – $849. GD37CE-12 PW – $949, from ESP Takamine. 

Martin SC-28E & SC-18E 

Martin's SC-28E and SC-18E guitars

(Image credit: Martin)

These American-made SC models represent the culmination of innovation Martin unleashed about five years ago with a secret R&D project spearheaded by VP Fred Greene and lead designer Tim Teal. 

When GP was invited to take a sneak peek at the original SC-13 SC in 2020, it was immediately apparent that this oddly S-shaped instrument was coming from an entirely different galaxy, with its crazy cutaway and Sure Align neck system, which together delivered easy access to the fretboard’s upper reaches. 

That model was manufactured in Mexico, as were all four subsequent SCs until a small batch of U.S.-made Custom Shop models arrived in 2022. An enthusiastic response from collectors encouraged Martin to begin building these two Standard Series models stateside, with solid woods and significantly upgraded electronics. 

The SC-28E pairs East Indian rosewood back and sides with a spruce top, while the SC-18E is mahogany and spruce. Both come equipped with Fishman Aura VT Blend or L.R. Baggs Anthem electronics. Pros will appreciate. 

SC-28E – $3,999 with hardshell case. SC-18E – $3,599, from Martin. 

Taylor 50th Anniversary Limited-Edition Collection

Taylor's booth at the 2024 NAMM show

(Image credit: Taylor)

Taylor is commemorating its golden anniversary with the Circa 74 AV150-10 boutique amp as well as a series of limited-edition guitars that it will roll out over the course of the year. 

Ranging from fancy and expensive to practical and affordable, the group includes the Builder’s Edition 814ce LTD, featuring a sinker redwood top with Indian rosewood back and sides; the 314ce LTD, with sapele back and sides and a torrefied Sitka spruce top; the American Dream AD14ce-SB LTD, offered with walnut back and sides and a Sitka spruce top; the Presentation Series PS14ce LTD, which comes in a choice of urban ironbark with a striped sinker redwood top or figured claro walnut with a western red cedar top; and the PS24ce-LTD in figured, master-grade Hawaiian koa. 

Builder’s Edition 814ce LTD – $4,999. 314ce LTD – $2,799. American Dream AD14ce-SB LTD – $1,999. Presentation Series PS14ce LTD – $9,999. PS14ce LTD – $14,999. PS24ce-LTD – $19,999, from Taylor Guitars

Fishman AFX Mini Series pedals 

Fishman's AFX Mini Series pedals

(Image credit: Fishman)

Fishman has made three new additions to its AFX Mini Series, whose pedals are voiced to handle the wide sonic range of acoustic instruments. The EchoBack delay, BlueChorus multi-chorus, and AcoustiComp compressor follow the blueprint laid down with last year’s batch of four AFX Minis that earned an Editors’ Pick Award in 2023 and ranked among the Top Gear of the Year. 

The EchoBack offers analog, digital, and tape delay, and its lone foot switch can be set to use for tap tempo. The BlueChorus offers analog, vintage, and classic varieties of chorus, and the AcoustiComp is a super-simple compressor based on Fishman’s popular Aura Spectrum. All AFX Minis are voiced and processed in parallel to preserve your acoustic tone

$119.95 each, from Fishman.

L.R. Baggs HiFi Duet pickup system

L. R. Baggs HiFi Duet pickup system

(Image credit: L. R. Baggs)

L.R. Baggs's HiFi Duet pickup and mic mixing system (available this summer) is essentially the same HiFi that earned an Editors’ Pick Award last year as well as a spot in Gear of the Year, but with the addition of a second element, the Silo Microphone. Built on the broad shoulders of Baggs’ Tru Mic technology, Silo features a new mic capsule and tuned suspension. 

A discrete preamp with a multipole crossover system seamlessly blends the HiFi Pickups and Silo Mic, so you can dial in anything from punchy and direct to open and airy, all with enhanced ambience and dimension. The quick demo I heard was very promising. 

$449, from L.R. Baggs.

Nakupenda Guitar Master Stool 

Nakupenda guitar stool

(Image credit: Nakupenda)

The Guitar Master Stool by Nakupenda was a favorite surprise find at the 2024 NAMM show. Nakupenda has put a ton of research into making what it calls “the world’s first ergonomic guitar performance stool,” which is designed to hug hips and align the spine and pelvis to improve posture, thereby relieving back and neck pain by evenly distributing the player’s weight. 

The chair is handcrafted from FSC-certified sustainable North American walnut and is available in two heights. Once while attempting to get comfortable on a bar stool at soundcheck, Leo Kottke remarked, “I always feel like a marionette sitting on one of these things.” Not so with the ergonomic Guitar Master Stool. Better still, it has a handy built-in guitar stand on the back. 

$459 direct with free shipping, from Nakupenda.

Snark ST-8 Ti 

Snark ST-8 Ti tuner

(Image credit: Snark)

The Snark ST-8 Titanium brings a couple of ingenious new features to the clip-on tuner format that the brand played a huge role in establishing. A vulcanized rubber collar cushions the back of its interface and acts like a sound shield to cut out external frequencies and vibrations, thereby providing reliable tuning accuracy in noisy conditions. 

Players will also appreciate the ST-8 Titanium’s rechargeable lithium battery, which Snark claims can deliver “weeks to months of continuous use” from one charge via USB, PC, or power bank. The high-resolution LCD screen has 360 degrees of rotation and is designed to be visible from all sorts of angles on stage, whether conditions are dark or sunny. 

$26.99, from Snark Titanium.

Mackie ShowBox 

Mackie ShowBox

(Image credit: Mackie)

Mackie’s new Swiss Army knife comes armed with pretty much everything a busker needs to rock a gig, anywhere at any time, alone or with a few buddies. The ShowBox is a battery-powered all-in-one performance rig comprising a portable P.A., acoustic guitar amp, six-channel mixer, and effects rack. 

Particularly innovative is a breakaway mix controller that mounts directly to a mic stand and connects to the ShowBox through the included Ethernet cable, allowing the performer to manage all channel levels, effects and EQ settings, user snapshots, and the built-in looper and tuner, all without having to leave their stage position. 

A USB-C audio interface facilitates streaming or recording the gig, and ShowBox can also record straight to an SD card. Custom backpack sold separately. Stay tuned for a detailed review soon. 

$799, from Mackie.

Jimmy Leslie has been Frets editor since 2016. See many Guitar Player- and Frets-related videos on his YouTube channel, and learn about his acoustic/electric rock group at spirithustler.com.